AHA re-captures supporters’ hearts with reactivation campaign



American Heart Association, one of the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary health organizations, is a nonprofit dedicated to cardiovascular medical research and the prevention and treatment of heart disease and stroke. Part of the organization’s mission is educating the public on healthy living and cardiac care, as well as generating support from volunteers and donors to continue to fund life-saving research.

The Challenge

Email is a key communication channel for American Heart Association, but like many organizations in the nonprofit world, they had a large segment of inactive donors & warm prospects in their database, which affected their inboxing rate and reduced their reach. In fact, an M+R Benchmark report indicates that 1 in 4 nonprofit subscribers are inactive, which can negatively impact engagement rates and lead to deliverability issues that prevent emails from reaching the inbox.

One of American Heart Association’s goals in FY21 was to grow their online database by effectively adding lapsed donors back to the master database and reengaging inactive supporters while avoiding deliverability issues that can happen when emailing lapsed audiences.

The Solution

American Heart Association partnered with Data Axle to develop a campaign that could hit inboxes in the most effective way possible. This required a two-pronged approach – one part to ensure the cleanest list to email and the most compelling content that would get a lapsed constituent or warm prospect not only to open the email, but to click and engage with the organization. To ensure the cleanest most deliverable list, Data Axle used data and data experts to hygiene and append updated emails to make AHA’s lapsed email file digital media target-ready. Through this process we were able to identify a large segment of lapsed email constituents who were most likely to re-engage via digital channels. Because a portion of this dormant universe came from event donors like “Kids Heart Challenge”, Data Axle also age appended/verified the list to ensure there were no minors present. We then deployed a campaign aiming to reactivate this segment in time for year-end giving without risking the health of American Heart’s primary email sending domain.


The reactivation campaign included a two-part email/remail series paired with re-targeted Facebook ads to increase the number of touches and drive additional consideration and donations. The program had multiple creative versions across each touchpoint designed to capture the audience’s attention and engage them with informative content about healthy living and research breakthroughs driven by the American Heart Association.

The Data Axle team provided strategic insights that informed the messaging and creative for each campaign. The email series used snappy subject lines, personalization, compelling CTAs, and eye-catching creative to entice the lapsed email audience to reengage the AHA.


Working collaboratively, the American Heart Association and Data Axle teams tapped into the nonprofit’s lapsed audiences in order to drive fundraising and increase the size of their active donor database. The digital cross-channel acquisition program with reactivation at its core proved to be extremely successful and helped American Heart exceed year-end fundraising goals.

The cross-channel reactivation program drove phenomenal engagement rates, exceeding open rate benchmarks by 607% and growing the size of American Heart Association’s active email database by 22%, just in time for year-end giving. And, with the help of the Data Axle Inboxable tool and deliverability experts AHA’s Gmail inbox placement went from 100% spam folder to 100% inbox placement where it sits today.

See the full story

Tune into this recorded session with American Heart Association’s Sherry Minton to learn more about how AHA reactivated over half a million lapsed subscribers to drive fundraising.


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